Would you believe it? Alta Val Trebbia recently received a very special visit from an incredible cycling duo of musicians on their way to Japan.
Through our @visitaltavaltrebbia Instagram profile, we got to know the Total Bike Forever project by Adam Faulkner and Tim Stephens. Over the course of the next year Adam and Tim are cycling to Japan, making an album on the road and a documentary of their expedition. They left London about a month ago and are making their way east through Europe before rolling onto Central Asia, South East Asia and finally reaching Japan in 2019.
In early April 2018, they crossed the valley and the Antola Park, where they took this picture that sparked our conversation.
We took the chance to learn more about their journey and experience in Alta Val Trebbia and ask a few questions…
1. How did you come across Val Trebbia in general and Parco dell’Antola in particular?
Having spent the best part of two weeks cycling along the French and Italian riverias, we were keen on a change of scenery and a challenge to go with it. We found a route that took us through Parco dell’Antola but didn’t know anything about the park before we took to the road. We really enjoyed our time there and what we saw along the way.
2. What route did you take to arrive there and what was your next destination?
We’d cycled from London, down through France eventually hitting the Mediterranean. We then headed along the coast east through Italy before heading north from Savona to Milan. We passed through the Park as we cycled this part of our route.
3. Did you visit any of the villages along the way or did you interact with the locals?
We were enjoying the road so much that we barely stopped! That said, we did stop in one village for a coffee and something to eat in a bakery (we only really eat cake whilst we’re cycling!) Everyone we spoke to was very friendly and we had no trouble making our selves understood.
4. Since you are writing an album too, did the scenery you saw in Alta Val Trebbia inspire any musical thought?
It did! You can see from this photo that we actually got some of the instruments out at the top of the climb and made the most of the inspiration that hit us and the amazing scenery.
5. Any tip you would give to fellow bikers wanting to cross the valley too?
Beware of the head wind in the early stages of the climb. There’s a lot of bends in the road but keep going! The view from the top is totally worth it.
Here is an evocative memory written by Tim and Adam about their climb towards Parco dell’Antola:
“Push, breathe, climb. Push, breathe, climb. There’s a simple yet demanding rhythm to take you from the Liguria coast to the top of the Passo Del Turchino – a 532m ascent that avidly wraps itself around the hillside like a snake.
For us, two musicians travelling by bike all the way to Tokyo from London, these kind of climbs take on a special significance – get to the top take in the view and get our instruments out to make some music set against a breathtaking backdrop.
Leaving the hustle and bustle of Voltri, we started the climb knowing we had the best part of 10km of uphill to come, so dropped down into bottom gear, strapped in for the ride and slipped into the meditative climbing state, where we try to rid our minds of any thoughts at all.
Passing Mele, the biggest commune on the ascent, the din from the coast quickly subsided with only overhead Autoroutes towering over us for an audio backdrop. But as we got higher and higher and the villages got smaller and smaller even the Autoroute noise subsided as we switched places and towered over them, but not before a mid climb stop to take on a quick espresso with the elderly residents for the last big push.
Two hours and countless switchbacks later, we were there and we weren’t disappointed. Rolling hills strewn across the horizon, barely any movement or noise – the view was one of stillness and tranquillity. It was time to put some music to this breathtaking scene before moving on to our next chapter.”
Follow Total Bike Forever adventure on the website (www.totalbikeforever.com) and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. The project is raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society.